The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taking the Leap of Faith

Taking a Leap of Faith

I'm Headed to China      

By Kelsey Muskin

Some people find that their career is not working and decide to change jobs, but more and more African American women are taking transformation to another level. Among them are women giving up traditional 9 to 5 jobs in the United States for unconventional ESL (English as a second language) teaching positions abroad. 
Brittany Shook, a Nashville native, recently departed on her way to Chengdu, China for a six-month teaching assignment, and we had the pleasure of chatting with her before she left.

When we asked Brittany why she was traveling to Chengdu China, she states that she wanted a new exciting change in her life. Brittany was in a contract position that was about to end, tired of working in a corporate position; she wanted to do something completely different.  When the opportunity came to travel abroad and teach, it wasn’t that difficult to consider.

“I was contemplating and praying if it was the right thing to do and I just felt like it was. All the signs led to China” says Shook. “If I go over there and I do not like it I can always come back home, but for now, I want to just try it out.” In most cases, teaching abroad assignments are one year, but Brittany is choosing to do six months for that purpose; she wants to test the waters before taking on a full yearlong assignment.

In college, Brittany’s major was Liberal Arts with a minor in Business Administration, but was working in the field of Information Technology. “I was looking at ways to travel with what I studied and worked in, but there weren’t many options at that time. I would have to stay in those positions for five to ten years just to move up and I did not want to be in those positions for that long.”

Another factor that initiated Brittany’s decision to go to China was that she planned to go and visit the country previously.  She was originally going to visit China with friends but some problems occurred that caused them to back out of the trip.  Still wanting to go to the country, Brittany looked at other ways of traveling.

Brittany said, “I was thinking, why I would pay to go to China when I can have someone pay for me to go there instead.  When I applied for the teaching job, they said I would be located in China and since I wanted to go there anyway, I felt that it was just the right opportunity.”

This will not be Britany’s first time traveling abroad. She had previously traveled to Mexico, Italy as well as Jamaica, but states that they were all trips for vacations and she now wants a more educational experience abroad.

While many young people are afraid of stepping into the unknown Brittany is very open to traveling to a foreign country and having a different experience. However, she isn’t the first person in her family to spend time abroad. Her father was in the military and has been to over 40 countries. 
“Just go for it and if it doesn’t work out you can always come back home. If you do not try, you will never know how the experience would be. ”
While growing up, Brittany always saw her father leave, but wanted to travel with him. She says, “I always wanted to go with my father when he traveled, but I was in school and had to stay here with my mother. So, he would bring back souvenirs, but it is not the same as going overseas and getting the experiences for yourself. So seeing my dad travel made me want to get out and travel too.”

It is only rational that fears and apprehensions will go through a person’s mind when they first live abroad and Brittany is no exception. Besides her anxiety and procrastination about moving far way, her main fear is about her making the right decision to go abroad. It is a major step in someone’s life, but Brittany feels that even though it is a major decision, she trust herself that she is making the right one.

Her expectations for her trip is to gain more personal growth and independence. “I am the only child in my family so I am use to being spoiled and sticking to my comfort zones. I feel that this trip will make me become more social and to gain my own independence. I also expect to find myself and continue to grow more as a person.”

If Brittany could tell herself anything in a year, after her experience living in China, she hopes to say that she made the right decision and congrats, on getting up and moving even though she was scared and procrastinating. She would also want to tell herself thank you.

Lastly, we asked Brittany what advice she would have for someone else that is currently in her situation, contemplating leaving, and going abroad. Brittany states “Just go for it and if it doesn’t work out you can always come back home. If you do not try, you will never know how the experience would be. You do not want to be elderly and look back on your longer years and wish that you traveled. So just go out and go for it.”